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NBA referee Dick Bavetta is hanging up his grey jersey

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NBA off-seasons are filled with player news, but what about the refs?

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

NBA referees take a lot of heat from, well, pretty much everyone. Dick Bavetta is one of the more recognizable faces among NBA refs, but after 39 years on the job, he's finally hanging it up.

Bavetta, 74, will be remembered as the league's officiating iron man, having refereed a record 2,635 consecutive regular season games from his Dec. 2, 1975, debut through the conclusion of the 2013-14 season. The NBA's previous record for most consecutive regular season games officiated was 2,134, held by former referee Jake O'Donnell and surpassed by Bavetta in 2006.

A native of Brooklyn, Bavetta never once called in sick during a 39-year career that also saw him oversee 270 playoff games, 27 Finals games and three All-Star Games. Bavetta worked in every Finals series from 1990 through 2008, according to the New York Times.

"I am most proud of never having missed an assigned game, be it exhibition, regular season or playoffs, throughout my entire career," Bavetta said in a statement. "It really has been a great run."

To check out the rest of Ben Golliver's piece on Bavetta for Sports Illustrated, click here.

I cannot remember how many times I made the joke, "Bavetta probably can't get a drivers license in the US, but he's still allowed to call the fastest game in the world..." It's going to be strange not to see him patrolling the hardwood next season, another nostalgic moment.